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End of free TV licences for over-75s delayed in response to coronavirus outbreak

End of free TV licences for over-75s delayed in response to coronavirus outbreak

The changes will be delayed for a month in response to the outbreak

2 min read

Controversial plans to charge over-75s for TV licences has been delayed in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Old people were due to start being charged for their TV licences from 1 June after the BBC said it could no longer afford to fund the perk.

But in a joint statement with the Corporation, ministers said the charge would not be introduced until 1 August in an effort to eschew "worries" during the outbreak.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced over-70s could be asked "in the coming weeks" to self-isolate for up to four months in a bid to protect the elderly and vulnerable from the deadly virus.

The statement said: "The BBC and the Government have been discussing the national coronavirus situation.

"Changes to the TV licence for people aged over 75 had been due to come into effect on 1 June. But during this time we do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change.

"The BBC's priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at a uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead.

"Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy. Our current plan is to now bring it into place on 1 August. We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Pleased that the BBC has agreed with us to postpone their licence fee changes for the over 75s in light of Covid-19.

"Removes the worry for millions of older people at this difficult time."

The statement comes after Boris Johnson announced plans to hold daily press conferences alongside medical experts following criticism of the Government's communications strategy.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the daily updates were part of a commitment to "keep the public informed every step of the way about what we're doing to fight the spread of coronavirus, when we're doing it and why we're doing it."

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